Our Events

The New York World of Willa Cather

Open to the public October 24, 2017 - August 31, 2018

Both Library members and nonmembers are welcome to visit the exhibition in The Assunta, Ignazio, Ada and Romano Peluso Exhibition Gallery any time the Library is open.

Willa Cather is better known for her elegiac novels about the Great Plains, but New York City exercised a profound influence on her creative life. Of signal importance was the New York Society Library, a valuable hidden resource for Cather. This is the first exhibition to showcase the Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s relationship to the Library and to the city where she lived off and on for most of her adult life.

Treasures displayed from the Library’s collections will include:

  • Charging cards listing the books checked out by Cather and her lifelong companion Edith Lewis during their twenty-year membership;
  • an essay by Truman Capote describing his humorous meeting with Cather at the Library during a 1942 snowstorm;
  • first editions of My Mortal Enemy (1926); Song of the Lark (1915); and The Troll Garden (1905);
  • titles Cather consulted while writing Sapphira and the Slave Girl (1940).

The exhibition catalog contains an introduction by curator Harriet Shapiro, an essay by Andrew Jewell, editor of the Willa Cather Archive, and photographs of Cather from Wyoming to New York City. It describes the landmarks of Cather’s urban world—her Washington Square and Park Avenue homes and the office of muckraking McClure’s Magazine, where Cather was managing editor—and their influence on books from Song of the Lark to My Mortal Enemy.

The New York World of Willa Cather illuminates a significant but lesser-known aspect of the life of this beloved American author.

This exhibition is supported by Ada Peluso and Romano I. Peluso.

Willa Cather portrait by the Aimé Dupont Studio, c. 1910. Willa Cather Foundation.